The Pros and Cons of Offshore Outsourcing

The Pros and Cons of Offshore Outsourcing

The Pros and Cons of Offshore Outsourcing

Outsourcing, in the context of Business Process Outsourcing, can be defined as the performance of certain processes essential to the creation of the intended product or service being done by a unit or company or business other than the owner of the final product or service. A legal firm may outsource transcription of dictated submissions and a startup might outsource its payroll processing.

Starting out as an almost contiguous establishment, meant to reduce pressure on high-cost real estate and resources, advancements in communications and software technologies have made it possible for work to be done from anywhere in the world. This has given rise to the phenomena that is offshore outsourcing which is a term used to describe the geographical proximity of the supplier, or lack of it, from the clients’ geographical position. It is normally used to indicate the vendor’s location in another, distant country.

If the vendor is located in a country that is contiguous or close, the term used is ‘nearshore.’

Some people also use ‘farshore’ to indicate the vendor’s location as being distant, but is not a popular usage. Neither is ‘sameshore’ which indicates presence in the same country. 

Enumerated here is an evaluation of some of the prominent benefits and challenges the strategy offers.

Advantages

Lower cost

Cost being a number, is transparent, clear and quantifiable and does not leave room for interpretation or doubt. This has been, and continues to be, one of the primary reasons for the existence of outsourcing as a business model.

Business has always been sensitive to opportunities of making and saving money. Offshore outsourcing has created one such opportunity. Each geography in the world has its own unique history and pattern of development bringing them to where they are today. The range is wide and the gap enormous between rich and poor. According to a World Bank report for 2019, the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD terms was 507 for Afghanistan while it was 55,060 for Australia, almost a hundred times greater. And these are not the most extreme figures in the table.

Just like a natural resource like water will flow from high to low ground, in a free market system, which is what much of the world today follows, work will move from a high cost to a low cost center, across the seven seas. While on the one hand the business that is transitioning work offshore will gain a competitive advantage, it will also result in raising the income levels and work opportunities in the delivery location.

oWorkers operates from some of the most highly rated locations for outsourcing in the world. Our clients report savings of upto 80% when they outsource to us. Our operational efficiencies enable us to save costs which we are able to share with our clients.

Access to a bigger expertise pool

“Clients come for the cost savings but stay for the quality” is how many BPO companies engaged in the business like to believe as the reason for their success. And they may not be wrong.

With the benefit of a high volume of similar transactions across multiple clients, offshore data entry outsourcing companies are able to develop proficiency in some of their areas of work, aided by adding a few industry experts at leadership levels to guide the business. This also enables providers to out their best foot forward as a knowledgeable organisation when they pitch for new business in that vertical.

From the clients’ perspective, the expertise built by a provider will only be beneficial in delivering them greater efficiency and quality. There could be the issue of being dependent on an external party which could be overcome by splitting across vendors it reached that point of risk.

oWorkers operates in its chosen areas of data entry, annotation and content moderation and has delivered successful results to over a hundred clients over eight years of operations. In many cases, on account of the expertise we have built, clients initiate the process directly with us, without first implementing inhouse and then transitioning.

Benefits of scale

By itself scale may not be an advantage form offshore outsourcing but it has the ability to trigger the release of several benefits. As a result of developing expertise in certain areas, providers create a brand value for themselves that results in attracting more similar business. This results in creating a large volume of similar activity or work through aggregation of the work of several clients. What this does is:

Reduces the unit cost of processing – Indirect costs, which do not increase with the volume of transactions, get shared over a larger number of transactions and resources, lowering the unit cost. This enables the vendor to earn profits as well as share some part of the savings with the client.

Enables technology investments – With aggregated volumes, investing in superior technologies often becomes possible and viable. This investment releases further efficiencies in the form of lowering manpower expenses and speeding up processing. Individual clients, with their limited volumes, may not have been able to justify the investment that the vendor is able to make. Working like aggregators, suppliers have even been able to create platform solutions for processes handled manually.

oWorkers partners with technology solution providers to leverage advancements in technology for delivering on client contracts.

Time Zone related benefits

Offshore outsourcing creates an additional variable in the form of time zone difference between the client and supplier.

Some benefits accrue when there is a large difference in the two time zones, both being ranged on roughly the opposite ends of the 24-hour scale, say client being in New York and processing organisation in Manila, roughly 12 hours ahead. What that does is create an overnight processing window. By the time business shuts down in New York it is time for Manila to start working. Work allocated by the client before the end of their business day is processed in Manila when they start their day, and possibly complete it during the day while New York is asleep. By the time they start work the next day, the allocated work would have been turned around, processed, almost like a fairy who waved a magic wand while they were asleep and completed the work.

This happens when there is a significant East-West displacement across the globe.

If the displacement is North-South and not East-West between the client and vendor, it means the two are likely to be in a similar time zone, which could facilitate handling processes that require greater coordination and interaction between the two sides. The key is choosing processes that can benefit from these displacements.

The three centers of oWorkers lie almost at the center of the world. They are located in time zones similar to Western Europe, and are far away from North America, the two main client locations. This allows us flexibility in providing overnight turnaround to US clients as well as being available during working hours for consultations and interactions for Western Europe. In any case, our 24×7 centers ensure that we are able to meet all client requirements.

Access to resources globally

In a competitive world, running a business successfully is hard enough. The need to manage many moving parts makes it all the more challenging. 

Offshoring often takes away some of the pain attached to managing these moving parts, like managing human resources that are required for the work. Getting the right quality at the right price is already difficult. The business also experiences peaks and troughs requiring adjustments in staffing numbers. If the business grows, it does not want to struggle for resources to support its growth. These are some of the human factors that offshoring can assist your business with.

oWorkers operates as a local registered company in all its locations. It is a contributing member of local communities. As a preferred employer, it receives a steady stream of applications that reduces its hiring costs as well as attrition numbers. It also gives oWorkers the flexibility to hire short-term resources to manage peaks, to the tune of almost a 100 resources in 48 hours.

Challenges

Disenchantment of processors

The objective of offshore outsourcing often being to create processing efficiency results in the breaking down of processes to small, repetitive tasks. Over time, this has the potential to create boredom and burnout amongst processors that can allow carelessness to creep in, leading to errors. Not only can this impact the processors, but even other roles that are supposed to monitor errors.

The employing organisation needs to ensure it has systems in place to capture processing errors before they become noticeable by the client.

oWorkers monitors the performance of each individual and provides opportunities for job rotation designed to keep employees fresh and engaged. In addition, fair and transparent employment practices, mandated by our presence in the Eurozone, also create confidence and engagement.

Intellectual Property risk

There are many reasons for some parts of the world being cheaper than others, one of then being a relative lack of governance and enforcement of laws. Such an environment can create a threat for the intellectual property owned by the client that is shared with the vendor engaged for offshore outsourcing, necessary for handling the outsourced processes. It is not unheard of to find that the IP has been violated or there are versions of processes and products available soon after.

In addition to GDPR compliance, oWorkers operates from super secure facilities & protocols for the security of client data and is also ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. Each staff member signs a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before they are permitted to process client data.

Labor malpractices

While one can debate if there is greater respect for people in what are considered to be ‘developed’ societies or in ones considered to be lower on the same scale, in offshore outsourcing, the issue of labor malpractices has to be viewed through the prism of the client’s regulatory environment as that is what they are answerable to. If the client is from a society where labor malpractices are reasonably clearly articulated as well as enforced

If the supplier operates in an environment where there is greater acceptance of practices such as child labor on account of the prevalent poverty, while the client environment clearly prohibits the same, it could create issues for the client in their markets as well as with regulators, if their use of a vendor indulging in such malpractices becomes established.

Having adopted the model of working with employed resources as opposed to freelancers, oWorkers is committed to the career progression of its staff and offers a fair and transparent work environment drawn from best practices around the world. Our staff are also free to choose to work from home as long as the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic looms.

Cultural differences

It is sometimes said that though the main language might be the same, the dialect and version change every hundred kilometres or so. Two villages in Germany a hundred kilometres apart will be speaking German but have their own unique variant. As will be the case with the Hindi spoken in two villages in Central India a hundred kilometres apart. Culture and customs also change from one place to another.

Offshore outsourcing, where the distance between the two parties could be thousands of kilometers, such differences are likely to get magnified and could result in some amount of misunderstanding and errors creeping in. Sensitivities pertaining to cultural differences could get further magnified if the process involves customer interaction, like Contact Center support and could even result in customer dissatisfaction.

oWorkers, with a center in Europe, which is within three hours of flying time away from any major city in Europe, is culturally aligned to support customer business for Western European clients. In addition, our chosen areas of specialization that focus on data related work, mostly involved interaction with client staffers and not customers.

Hidden costs

While the business case looks promising, there are hidden costs in offshore outsourcing that could tilt the balance. Grid-supplied power supply may be erratic requiring investment in private generating capacity. Travel costs could increase as there will be a likelihood of outsourcer staff needing to travel to the delivery destination to ensure processes are followed and issues resolved. Local events like political unrest and demonstrations could jeopardize business continuity resulting in down time.

oWorkers provides transparent pricing to clients including a choice between rate per unit of output and rate per unit of capacity. Once a price is agreed, all additional costs are borne by oWorkers. We make arrangements to augment resources like power supply in centers where grid supply could be erratic. All costs are factored in when we quote a price so that there are no surprises for clients.

In Conclusion

While there are clear benefits offshore outsourcing delivers to a business, it comes with its own set of limitations which need to be managed. Successfully managing the downsides while taking advantage of the benefits results in creating value for the business.

There are political sensitivities associated with it as well, as it seems to reduce local employment while generating employment in faraway lands, even though many such views have been debunked in the past. In a free market, the flexibility of businesses to operate in a manner they deem suitable, while abiding by rules and regulations of the geographies they operate in, is seen as a fundamental right.

Top Business Process Outsourcing Trends in 2021

Top Business Process Outsourcing Trends in 2021

Top Business Process Outsourcing Trends in 2021

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

These words, attributed to John F Kennedy’s father Joseph, as well as American coach K. Rockne, and also made popular by a Billy Ocean song with these words as lyrics, could apply to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry based on how they have handled the global meltdown in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic sweeping across the world.

The BPO industry has played a stellar role in ensuring that insurance claims are honored, ecommerce online stores are updated, community discussions on social media are moderated, new phone connections are activated, bank interest charges are explained and overdue car loans are recovered. While the world was locked down.

Used to working from a physical location, after lockdowns were implemented, it became impossible for people to commute to work as well as collect in any meaningful strength in an office space. The industry went into hyper action and quickly worked out protocols that would permit people to work from home, or wherever they were, and continued to support clients in the many different ways that it does.

But business and the environment around it are fickle. What was true yesterday may not be true today. Common BPO activities today, like ecommerce data entry and social media moderation, were not even words in the lexicon twenty years back. What is true today may not be so tomorrow. Millions of smart people and businesses are perhaps working on solutions right now that could dramatically change today’s certainties.

Occasionally events like the pandemic and natural (or manmade) calamities happen which have the power to alter the trajectory of humankind. Otherwise, business, like life, evolves. It rarely changes overnight, though sometimes it feels like it did. It is usually a strengthening or weakening or continuation of trends one may have already noticed.

So, let us look into the crystal ball and try to see business process outsourcing trends in 2021.

Virtual Workplace is here to stay

Shibboleths of the past came crashing down within a few weeks of the Covid-19 induced lockdowns having set in. On grounds of control, data security, supervision and perhaps other reasons as well, BPO work was ‘grounded’ to physical office spaces of providers from where it had to be performed. All other options were considered too risky to be even experimented with.

Faced with a decline in revenues and clients whose businesses would crumble if certain processes were not handled, BPOs did a remarkable makeover in the matter of a few weeks and set themselves up to enable their employees to work from home, or anywhere else, since office became inaccessible and collection of people in large numbers, which is how offices typically operate, was prohibited.

Amongst all trends, this is the one which we can perhaps be certain is going to continue and gain strength and acceptance, what with newer, more virulent strains of the virus apparently running amuck now even as industry leaders push for reform to make it easier.

oWorkers positioned itself for virtual work immediately after the lockdowns came into existence. Even today, our staff can choose to work from home, depending on the guidelines in place in each of the locations. We are fully equipped to work from the office, from home as well as a hybrid model.

Social Media related requirements will drive adoption

Social Media has been a success story in business process outsourcing trends in the last decade. The growth in social media usage has led to enhanced work volumes emanating from social media for BPOs. This is the result of increased adoption of social media by businesses, which is the result of their customers’ preference for social media for communication of various kinds.

Increased usage of social media has not only resulted in serving customer needs, since there is so much data generated on social media as a result of frequent usage, it has also become an important source for mining information as well as influencing behavior.

Social Media related services will be an important offering for BPO outfits. One part of the offering will be traditional BPO services that are rule-based, like community monitoring or responding to customer queries. The other part where BPOs are going to increase their footprint is in the realm of discretionary services, like supporting clients in developing a presence, or creating and running campaigns as well as on-page and off-page SEO work. For businesses that do not either have inhouse talent or a vendor for supporting social media initiatives, will rely on BPO partners will social media skillsets to go beyond traditional BPO services into content creation and distribution.

Content moderation services, that form the bedrock of vibrant interaction on social media, and presents it from descending into bedlam, are part of the core strength of oWorkers. We are committed to making the internet a safer place for everyone with our content moderation services in multiple languages.

Omnichannel Communication will gain traction among business process outsourcing trends

With customers driving the agenda with their choices, omnichannel communication will continue to gain ground. The customer who sent an email yesterday, left a remark on a social media post of the company today and might call in tomorrow, expects the business to know that it was he who made all the three interactions as well as know what these were about.

Omnichannel communication technology adoption that facilitates such communication across channels will gain ground. Different from the multi-channel experience of the past where multiple channels were available, but were often standalone channels, not connected to each other.

Omnichannel is a strategy of improving user experience through connecting a customer’s experience across channels of interaction. It helps customers continue their experience, one channel to another, picking up where they left off. As consumers engage and shift from one platform to another, unified communication across channels is essential for a seamless experience.

oWorkers is a leading player in its chosen area of work, data related BPO services, which includes customer interface over channels like social media that today constitute a core part of customer communication.

Startup Companies: The New BPO Client

BPO adoption has long been led by large corporations, as scale was seen as an essential ingredient of the outsourcing decision. After all, an initiative like outsourcing requires management bandwidth, which costs money. Unless it can be justified by a ‘significant’ change, the transaction cost will be too high. This has been the general train of thought. Which also meant that functions with large volumes, like Call Centers, were among the earlier activities to be outsourced.

As the business world continues to change, and numerous small players try to make a difference, startups and SMEs driving adoption of BPO is part of the emerging business process outsourcing trends. They are focused on their core business and do not wish to be distracted by the peripherals, like paying salaries or filing annual tax returns or moderating their social media footprint or managing the office facilities. They are happy to outsource many of these support functions to BPOs that specialize in them, even though some of them may cost more, and focus on their core business in an effort to make a success out of it. BPOs also give startups the benefit of paying on the basis of usage rather than investing in technology and tools and people.

oWorkers remains committed to supporting clients in our chosen areas of expertise in data entry, content moderation and data annotation. Our clients include a mix of large corporations, SMEs and startups, among them unicorn marketplaces.

Business process outsourcing trends will continue to witness a rise in anywhere to anywhere outsourcing

The backbone of technology that took outsourcing offshore is now taking it ‘anyshore.’ We live in a digitally connected world, which has been borne out by the connectedness provided by the internet during the lockdown when physical interactions were limited. Also, as seen earlier, we are no longer limited by scale for outsourcing. Locations which have a business environment favorable for requirements of BPO work, but failed to make a deep impression earlier, are now prospering. There are new locations coming into the limelight every day, be it Bulgaria and Romania in East Europe, Mexico and Colombia in the Americas and Egypt in Africa. Unless you have a need for a vendor who can provide hundreds of people for a particular service, which might limit the options to India and the Philippines and a few others, you could go to a vendor anywhere.

With its presence in multiple economies in varied environments, from Bulgaria to Egypt to Madagascar, oWorkers not only provides multilingual services in over 22 languages, it can also provide business continuity by leveraging its multiple centers as backups for each other, if required.

Investment in Robotic Process Automation and related technologies will gather speed

Technology is the enabler for BPO business to have taken birth, survived, thrived and spread its tentacles around the world. It is natural that BPO will keep pushing the boundaries of technology for the next innovation.

As it is core business for them, providers are inclined to make investment in technology for the next leap for the process, that an outsourcer may not be willing to, especially for a process viewed as non-core. In addition, with aggregated volumes across multiple clients, providers also develop the scale that justifies such investments which, again, a client, with their own volumes, may never have been able to.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is emerging as a technology of choice for BPOs, as it enables them to carry out repetitive tasks accurately and speedily. In addition, this helps overcome the challenges in the same work being done by humans who often face burnout as a result when doing repetitive tasks.

With its partnerships with technology companies, oWorkers has gained access to the latest technologies in a flexible manner, not limited to one particular suite, which it is able to deploy for the benefit of client transaction processing.

India and the Philippines will continue their leadership

India and the Philippines are not going anywhere in a hurry. The conditions that made them BPO hotspots to begin with, English proficiency, educational qualifications and large talent pools, continue to flourish. There has been and will continue to be, periodic resetting of the type of work handled. At this point, Philippines takes the lead in voice-based BPO services like Contact Centers, while India continues to be the biggest delivery center for all other services.

Supported by home-grown technologies in a fertile entrepreneurial environment, BPO outfits in both these locations will continue to innovate and implement technology solutions in a bid to create more distance between themselves and all the others trying to catch-up, in one of the fastest growing industries on earth.

In a dynamic business environment, oWorkers has established its presence in three geographies considered key for the industry. We continue to evaluate options as we grow and will take decisions in the interest of our business and clients, when the need arises.

Business process outsourcing trends will witness increase in investing in building skills

With many employees working remotely, providers have needed to face up to the reality of having to let go. Accustomed to micro management of frontline agents, with a Team Leader hovering in the shadows and a Quality Analyst plugged in to identify errors so that coaching could be provided, in a remote environment, perhaps out of the absence of options, they have had to trust the frontline staff to do the right thing, especially in processes where she was interacting with customers. To their credit, staff members have stepped up magnificently. Stepping out of the shadows of the image of a BPO employee as one who plugs away at repetitive tasks, BPO staffers have demonstrated that given the right opportunity, they can create value for the organization.

Organizations are now stepping up and making efforts to train employees so that they can create value. More significantly, individuals are shedding their reluctance to invest in themselves and wait for their employer to do so, and are taking up skilling by themselves, helped by the explosion of online courses.

Having adopted the philosophy of working with employed staff instead of freelancers, oWorkers monitors the performance of each individual and charts out growth paths in consultation with them. We also invest in training our employees to take up roles with greater responsibility. Of course, employees are welcome to take up further skilling programs on their own initiative.

Possibility of political overhang on business process outsourcing trends

The recent experience of politics getting involved in decisions that should ideally be taken by businesses on the basis of economics, in the largest outsourcing nation, casts a shadow of doubt on the possibility of such events occurring again in the future, though it does seem that 2021 should be free of such pressure, at least in the US.

Of course, similar threats, or opportunities, emerging in other parts of the world cannot be ruled out. It is a normal business decision, of getting a part of your work done by providers or third parties who can do it better. A construction company might buy cement from a cement manufacturer and not make it themselves. NASA may build a spacecraft with parts sourced from hundreds of vendors instead of building all themselves. But when it comes to Business Process Outsourcing, by raising the spectre of job losses as a result, hiring a vendor to handle customer calls or monitor social media is converted into an emotive issue.

On the provider side, BPO is seen as a driver of employment in underserved economies and hence can become a pawn in the hands of political parties and leaders trying to score brownie points with the populace.

oWorkers operates as a locally incorporated entity in all the locations it provides services from. We are a contributing member of local communities and well integrated. We remain committed to abiding by all applicable rules and regulations and will continue to put forward a case for a free market and a level playing field so that the BPO business can prosper.

Business Process Optimization: How to Improve Workflows

Business Process Optimization: How to Improve Workflows

Business Process Optimization: How to Improve Workflows

A transformation is afoot in the world of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

A formalized BPO industry took shape many decades back with the primary objectives of saving labour cost while performing repetitive tasks, locating larger labor pools for outsourced tasks, creating efficiency and controls for the outsourced, mostly repetitive tasks.

As we probably know, in a competitive world, which is where businesses function, a business is never satisfied. It needs to keep doing more and more and more. It needs to find ways of enhancing revenues. It needs to find ways of reducing cost. It needs to keep finding competitive advantages to keep at bay pretenders snapping at its heels. It needs to find value propositions that enable it to stay relevant in the eyes of its client segment.

Business is littered with the corpses of corporations once considered unassailable in their chosen areas of operation but fell by the wayside as they were unable to effectively negotiate the changes demanded by the sheer passage of time, emerging technologies and customer preferences. Kodak and Nokia readily come to mind though no doubt there are many others.

BPO is no different. Like any business, it needs to stay relevant and competitive. It has had its share of challenges and has been reinventing itself over and over again. It has also brought into common consciousness processes and technologies that were either considered relevant only for manufacturing, or too academic for business applications.

One of the most significant contributions of BPOs has been towards business process optimization. With consistent performance leading to greater trust, and with the growth of consumer franchises greater and greater volumes being processed by BPO partners, they are now taking the lead in defining how business processes should be run for best outcomes.

The tail seems to be wagging the dog but the dog is happy.

So much so that NASSCOM, the industry association for IT and BPO in India, has even been suggesting that the industry should be referred to as Business Process Management (BPM) as it now goes beyond merely providing a data outsourcing solution and actively provides solutions for better management of business processes.

oWorkers has been supporting clients in its chosen areas of data services for over eight years. We have helped clients define, stabilize processes and even implement updated ones to better achieve business goals. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

 

What is business process optimization?

In layperson terms, it can be used to refer to any activity that leads to an improvement in one or more business processes.

Businesses being entities driven by the profit motive, everything inside them gets measured in monetary terms. Eventually, all improvement has to trickle down to the bottomline.

Revenue and Cost being the two main components of the bottomline, or profit, improvement should result either in doing the same thing at a lower cost or doing the same thing and realizing higher revenues. In general, though, improvement and optimization focus on the cost side by working on the various processes through which delivery of the company’s products and services is effected. On the revenue side, while optimization could have applications everywhere, in general, marketing and promotion strategies are leveraged to yield better, or different, results from what have hitherto been experienced.

The above notwithstanding, as the trickle-down to the bottomline effect of many changes might not be possible to isolate, businesses attempt to find surrogate variables through which improvement can be implemented and the impact measured. Some examples of areas which might be suitable for improvements and where it might be possible to measure the outcome, could be:

  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Customer response time
  • Transaction wait time in queue
  • Training duration

There is really no end to possible improvement areas. It depends to a great extent on the nature of the business. Also, it does not necessarily have to be a customer impacting area like transaction wait time in queue, which impacts the customer directly. Even internal processes like training, if we are able to enhance, will eventually, at a holistic level, impact all areas, including customers. For example, if the provider is able to reduce its training duration, it could lead to a cost saving with the possibility of the savings being shared with clients.

oWorkers has consistently been ranked among the top three providers of data based BPO services in the world. Our hands-on leadership team, with over twenty years of experience in the industry, leads our projects and improvement initiatives designed to add value to clients as well as our internal processes, using the latest techniques and processes.

 

The need for business process optimization

Let us look at a few examples of human endeavor from sport, often considered to be the pinnacle of physical human striving.

Sir Roger Bannister ran the mile, a distance of 1600 metres, in a time of under 4 minutes in May, 1954. The first human to do so. Many had tried earlier and failed. It was, then, considered the ultimate athletic achievement, one that could not be repeated.

By the eighties, just one generation later, Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe were already running the mile in under 3 minutes 50 seconds.

Do you know the current record? It is 3 minutes 43 seconds or thereabouts. 17 seconds shaved off a time once considered impossible. In just two generations.

Take tennis.

According to data collected over the years from Grand Slam events, the average first service speed was under 170 kilometres per hour in the early nineties. Measured in 2008, the first serve speed had increased to over 180 kilometres per hour. Armed with better physical training, and improved equipment, youngsters are serving faster and faster. Of the twenty fastest serves recorded, apparently only one belongs to the period before 2000.

Wherever you look, swimming, mountain climbing, marathon running, sprinting, continuous improvement is evident.

Business is not immune to this facet of human endeavour.

Man’s effort at continuous improvement is as applicable to business as any other facet of life.

And it makes sense too.

After all, in a competitive world, everyone is striving. To do more. Faster. Higher. Better.

If you don’t make the same effort, your business will run the risk of obsolescence and fading away as clients keep looking for creating value for their own businesses.

Hence, continuous improvement is not a choice. It is a survival strategy.

With three centers across the most favored BPO destinations in the world, oWorkers provides services in over 22 languages commonly spoken across the world. With us as a partner, clients can focus on their core business and seek to bring about transformational change with the support of our teams who are trained on continuous improvement methodologies.

 

The Process

There is no standard template for doing something better. Change can come from anywhere. In the context of a business, any business process optimization is likely to follow the broad sequence of steps outlined below:

Identification of need

Well begun is half done, they say. No different for business. However, this is also the most difficult stage. How does one glance across the shopfloor and identify the one process that is most likely in need of some betterment? After all, the business has been using the same processes for some time. One cannot randomly pick up one for special treatment. The right start is important in getting the right results. Here are some methods companies have used for this identification:

Competitor benchmarking – This is a common activity for many businesses, at least businesses with scale. Periodically it makes an effort at comparing itself with its closest competitors in an effort to do just this, identifying areas where the competitor is performing better with the aim of understanding the reason so that it can play catch-up.

Are they employing fewer people for the same output?

Are they able to fulfil orders two days faster than your business?

Such variances, once identified, become the starting point of your efforts at business process optimization.

Trend analysis – Businesses, again, at least ones with scale, also make a periodic effort at establishing trends in their own performance over several periods of measurement.

Transport cost has gone from 6% of Direct Cost to 10%. Is there a problem?

We recruited twice the number of people we hired last year. But our revenue is the same. What is the issue?

Such variances, again, provide leads into the areas which could benefit with some deep dives and detailed analysis.

Common sense – By virtue of being in a business for long, leadership and management teams develop a sixth sense about it. They may not be able to always back it up with data at the start, but they can be trusted to have an inkling about the trouble spots in their processing facility. Very often these provide a quick start to an investigation which often leads to some change being implemented.

Initial study

At the point where the initial ideas are being put together, the amount of information is limited and may only be available at a reasonably high level. The discussion at that stage is based on estimates, guesswork, hunches and possibilities.

That is as good a start as one can get, as it is impossible to have all information available upfront.

Based on the considered opinion of people involved in the discussion, the area needing work is identified which is the starting point of the next phase, that of initial information collection and study. This will serve to validate the initial hypotheses and will determine whether to go deeper into this particular area or drop it and look at other possibilities. The team may need to go through this phase a couple of time before the area is identified and agreed by all stakeholders.

Creating a project plan

From this point onwards there is no looking back. Quite often the initiative is launched in the form of a project with defined ownership and participation and in a format the success of failure of which could be measured.

This phase serves to define critical parameters like:

  • What is the objective; what is the initiative trying to achieve
  • Process or processes in scope and, by exclusion, the ones not in scope
  • Resources available to the project team, including senior level sponsors
  • Measurement method, including an external to the project resource for doing the measurement

Measure

As organizations seek to conduct their activities in a professional and transparent manner, measurement becomes important. This avoids later conflicts when credit for improvements is being sought and either rewarded or refuted. With clear measurements, the organization is better placed to know the real results.

Analyse

Once data becomes available, the process of analysing it begins. It is quite possible that while analyzing we find that data is deficient in some aspects and hence a few cycles of data collection, or measurement, may be interspersed with the analysis phase. It is also possible that additional data is required to reach meaningful conclusions. Either ways, the Measure and Analyze phases are likely to run in parallel for a bit.

The Analyze phase should result in bringing out areas which are likely to benefit based on which the project team will agree on specific actions that are likely to result in business process optimization In the identified areas. Again, no clear process for arriving at the actions is available. A lot of t is based on discussions. There are some tools that are available that some teams find useful, like Fishbone Analysis, Pareto Analysis and old-fashioned Brainstorming.

Improve

The I for Improve is sometimes also used to denote Implementation.

The rubber now hits the road. The theoretical work that was being done by collecting data, analyzing it and making recommendations, now needs to be introduced into the ‘live’ system. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

This can also be seen as a ‘test’ run that is supported by the might of the implementation team that is available to step in if things don’t go as planned.

Control

One of the criticisms improvement initiatives in BPOs have faced is that while a project is in progress and the project team in place, progress is good. In most cases the project results in successful implementation of change. However, once the implementation in a Business As Usual (BAU) manner is done and it becomes a part of normal work, improvements achieved often slide back.

The other criticism is that while improving one parameter that was the goal of the project, some other parameters that were not being monitored, suffer.

The Control phase is meant to ensure that business process optimization achieved is for good and the situation does not revert back to where it had started from. In addition, all other relevant parameters stay either where they were or improve. In other words, the business does not lose on the roundabouts what it gained on the swings.

Note: From the third step onwards, this methodology merges with a methodology known as DMAIC, that stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control.  DMAIC is a popular methodology commonly used either as a standalone or as a part of other methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma, to achieve lasting change.

The Quality team of oWorkers is conversant with a variety of quality systems that not only include Six Sigma, Lean and DMAIC, but also with ISO, Kaizen, COPC and TQM (Total Quality Management). They are constantly looking at possibilities of adding value through business process improvement, releasing value for oWorkers as well as clients.

 

In Conclusion

With oWorkers, you get a partner who is an extended part of your organization, looking to bring about positive change both for you as well as for oWorkers.

Having strategically decided to work with employed staff and not freelancers, we take responsibility for their development and training, including training on quality systems to select staff. We are a preferred employer in all the locations we operate from, which gives us the flexibility of offering peaks in staffing to cater to seasonal or other volume spikes, of upto a hundred people in 48 hours.  

We stay committed to bringing about positive change in all communities we work with. The work you outsource to oWorkers will enable us to introduce a few more people to the digital work, hopefully bringing about fundamental change to them and their families.

What is Business Process Outsourcing and How Does It Work

What is Business Process Outsourcing and How Does It Work

What is Business Process Outsourcing and How Does It Work

 

Three fairly common words of the English language come together to form a term that has added enormous value to a wide variety of industries and businesses around the world and continues to do so, evolving and mutating to keep pace with changing times, technologies and expectations. The term being referred to is: Business Process Outsourcing.

Another term that has gained currency in the last few years is BPM, which stands for Business Process Management. BPM is considered by some as being a wider term that encompasses managing a process in the most effective way, whether outsourced or not.

 

Business processes outsourcing: wide range of services

We know that supermarket stocks essentials items for customers to buy for their daily needs, and on a day-to-day basis, it ensures that its racks are stacked, shelves labelled correctly, inventories evaluated and orders placed.

We know that a restaurant provides a predictable environment for patrons to dine in, and on a day-to-day basis, makes sure there is adequate raw material, the place is clean, and food and drinks prepared as per customer requirements, and served.

We know that a bank takes deposits, grants loans, transfers money, provides financial advice and responds to customer queries on a day-to-day basis.

We know an insurance company assesses event risk, issues policies, collects premium payments and adjudicates on claims made by policyholders, on a day-to-day basis.

How about a BPO? What does it do on a day-to-day basis?

The amazing thing is that it could be doing any, or all, of the business processes listed above, and many more.

For a telecommunications business, it could be doing provisioning of new orders. For a hospital, it could be doing transcription of oral medical prescriptions. For a bank, it could be attempting to collect overdue loan payments from defaulting customers. For an insurance company, it could be doing adjudication of amounts payable on customer claims. For a car manufacturer, it could be handling customer service calls.

Unbelievable, but true.

Business Processes Outsourcing is a fast-moving, flexible, business, populated by a versatile group of human resources, that is adept at taking the shape of any business or service that it chooses to work for and adding value to the host or client business by doing it more efficiently and effectively.

 

Adding value to other businesses

Sporadic voices have occasionally been raised against the industry, especially where the work is done in another country, on flimsy grounds like ‘taking away jobs.’

We know that outsourcing is a reality in today’s connected world. We don’t grow the food we eat. Others grow it because they can do it better, and we buy it and feed ourselves. A supermarket does not manufacture the cash registers it uses at the checkout counter. It buys them from another company that has the knowledge and skills to do it better. The supermarket buys them and uses them, while keeping focus on their own business. These are examples of outsourcing, which can also be viewed as mutual dependence. Doing the core work ourselves and relying on others where they can do it better than us.

Business processes outsourcing is no different.

Like any business operating under the framework of a free market, it continuously tries to maximise its profits and shareholder value, by taking on processing activities which can be better performed by them. This could be for a variety of reasons like bulk volume, better tools and technology or greater experience. By doing certain processes more efficiently and effectively than another business can, they add value to other businesses.

 

Types of BPO

While they could, theoretically, do anything, as we have just seen, each company chooses the areas in which it would like to operate. It is a competitive world, after all. There are many other organisations that are similar, each trying to outdo the other in providing better value to its clients, winning more business, and earning greater profits for their owners and shareholders.

Knowing what you are good at by typifying your organization within certain boundaries could be beneficial in representing your organization in a sharper and clearer profile to the external world. It will also enable you to focus on business that answers to your areas of strength, instead of running after each new contract that comes up for bidding.

From the perspective of clients as well, it would be difficult to begin their search for a supplier with, say, a million BPO companies in the world, assuming all offer the full menu. It will become an endless evaluation exercise for outsourcing. If the client is a telco and wishes to outsource line order provisioning, it might be a more efficient process for them to limit their evaluation to companies that project themselves as specialists in that area or industry.

There are many ways for Business Process Outsourcing companies to identify themselves. Here are some common parameters around which this is done:

Nature of work done

BPOs can be classified on the basis of the nature of work handled by them.

If the work done by them is only or primarily in the area of providing customer servicing, like answering billing queries for a telco, they could classify themselves as specialists in providing customer service.

If the work done by them is only or primarily in the area of providing technical support to customers for resolving their hardware and software issues, they could classify themselves as specialists in providing technical support.

If the work done by them is only or primarily in the area of doing payroll processing for clients, they could classify themselves as specialists in payroll processing.

This list is not finite. The specialisation could be in HRO (Human Resources Outsourcing), or LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing), or Medical transcription, or Advertising copywriting, or E-publishing, or anything else.

oWorkers provides best-in-class services for data entry, annotation and content moderation services.

Channel of service

Channels through which services are delivered is another common classification.

If the outsourced work is being done only or primarily through Voice, it could be classified as a Voice specialist. A BPO specializing in Voice is also commonly referred to as a Contact Centre or Call Centre.

Voice services could be further broken down into Inbound Voice Services and Outbound Voice Services.

If the work is being done primarily on Email, it could be classified as an Email specialist.

If the work is primarily backoffice processing, it could be classified as a backoffice BPO.

oWorkers, in the eight years of its existence, has focused its efforts on backoffice data related work as its core and continued to build expertise in it. Within backoffice, we offer data entry, data moderation and annotation services.

Industries supported

This is a fairly obvious classification, based on the type of industry for which work is done.

If the work being done is only or mainly for Pharmaceutical companies, it could be considered as a Pharma specialist.

If all or most of the work being done is for companies that offer Insurance, it could be considered as an Insurance specialist.

If the work being done is primarily for a Telecom business, it could be a Telecom-specific supplier.

There could be as many types of service-providers as industries using outsourced business process services.

This type of classification can also be called classification based on Verticals.

Services of oWorkers are offered to a wide spectrum of companies across industries including several global unicorn marketplaces. In addition, 85% of our clients are technology companies. 

Location

While business processes outsourcing may have started as local initiatives, with processing work being done in less expensive parts of the same town, with the explosion of communications and internet technology, it has rapidly expanded around the world. Today, work could be outsourced from anywhere to anywhere in the world; in other words, for many outsourced processes, the location of the outsourcer and service provider do not have much relevance; either could be anywhere in the world.

Each individual and organization, however, is subject to the legal framework of the country they operate out of. If the client and supplier are in two different countries, there is a possibility that applicable laws could differ.

A BPO could be classified on the basis of nationality of its clients being the same country or a different one. If the work being done is for a client in the same country, we could call it domestic work and if it mainly, or only does domestic work, it could be called a domestic services provider.

If the work being done is for a different country, we could classify it as ‘international’ which would also create a related classification of ‘export’ as the revenues from the business arise overseas and are remitted to the country of the vendor for work done. These qualify as export revenues which are important for many developing nations and often attract government incentives. Another term used for ‘international’ is ‘offshore’ which signifies that the origin of the work is from outside the ‘shores’ of the country.

A domestic BPO is also often called an onshore supplier to signify that origination of the work is from within the ‘shores’ (boundaries) of the country where it is being serviced from.

With three centers in three geographies recognized as key locations of the industry, oWorkers would be considered to be primarily an export services vendor as most of its clients are located in geographies other than where they do the work from.

Demographics

The industry is recognized for its ability to create jobs in communities that face challenges of development. As a result, it often gets support from governments for setting up centers in such underserved locations.

Thus, delivery units could be identified on the basis of the development index of the town or city they are based in. This is especially true for large delivery provider nations like India, which could have significant variations between locations. It might be possible to classify locations within India as Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 locations where Tier 1 is the most developed, has access to quality resources and infrastructure and likely to be the most expensive for clients, as a result.

Another method of classification used is urban and rural, where a rural center is likely to be eligible for government benefits in return for contribution to the employment effort in that location.

The two scales can also be combined, with rural sitting somewhere after Tier 3.

oWorkers straddles the development index with its centers in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and Cairo, Egypt which could be considered as Tier 1 centers with reliable infrastructure and availability of well-educated resources, and Antananarivo in Madagascar which requires greater effort in training for resources as well as investments in infrastructure like backup power generation capacity.

Distance from source

This is where some popular terms like nearshore and farshore fit in.

If the work is being done in another country, the term used to define it is offshore.

If the work is being done in another country, but in a location that is somewhat contiguous, it could be referred to as being nearshore.

If the work is being done in another country, in a distant location, it could be referred to as farshore.

If the work is being done in the same country, it is referred to as sameshore. This is also referred to as onshore.

The above notwithstanding, it is not merely distance that determines this classification, else it would be in terms of miles or kilometres between the source and delivery units.

A delivery unit located in San Antonio in Texas for a business located in New York is a greater distance than a delivery unit based in Krakow, Poland, for a business located in Frankfurt, Germany. However, as it is in the same country, we would call it ‘sameshore’ whereas Krakow, in relation to Frankfurt, would be called ‘nearshore’.

oWorkers provides business process outsourcing services to its clients in the US and nearshore services to its clients in Westerm Europe.

Ownership

Ownership of the delivery unit is another method of classification.

It is a binary classification where the delivery unit, if owned by the company seeking the service, but identified as an independent unit for the purpose of specialization, differentiating the working terms and conditions and clear responsibility identification, is known as a captive. A term that has gained acceptance more recently for the same provider set is that of Global Inhouse Center (GIC).

On the other hand, if the company seeking the service is not the owner, it is known as a third-party vendor.

oWorkers is a third-party vendor of data related services to clients around the globe in over 22 languages.

 

Choosing a partner for business process outsourcing

oWorkers has consistently delivered accuracy in excess of 99% despite the difference in measurement scales across clients in over eight years of increasingly complex engagements across data entry, content moderation and annotation projects. Its delivery efforts are watched over by an independent Internal Quality team that reports directly to senior management.

Having a leadership team that has over 20 years hands-on experience in the business and a sound financial position gives oWorkers the ability to invest in the business. It is able to leverage the latest technologies with its partnerships across different partners and enable clients to benefit from them.

Operating from the Eurozone, GDPR compliance is a necessity. In addition, oWorkers is ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

Our relationship with local communities rewards us with a steady stream of interested applicants that keeps our hiring costs as well as attrition low. It also enables us to cater to peaks of upto 100 resources in 48 hours. We are Covid-19 ready and our employees are able to seamlessly operate from home when required.

oWorkers has been ranked amongst the top 3 data entry companies in the world. Our pricing is transparent and we can offer clients a choice of per unit of time pricing or per unit of output pricing. Several clients have reported savings of upto 80%.

oWorkers operates locally registered entities in all its delivery locations. It pays local taxes as well as social taxes for its employees. The work you outsource to us enables us to hire a few more disadvantaged people and help them become a part of the global digital workforce. 

BULGARIA OUTSOURCING COMPANY

BULGARIA OUTSOURCING COMPANY

OUR DELIVERY CENTER N° 2 : PLOVDIV, RILON CENTER

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